It’s not rare for audio and sound professionals to get requests to see if they can either improve and or even repair less-than-ok production sound. Sometimes a track that is full of environmental noises and distortion can be improved and repaired to a certain extent so that the audio can be used in the post-production process.
That being said, that homemade footage that was shot next to the washing machine might be salvageable by applying noise reduction software.
Key Milestones For The Audio Post Production Process
1. Sending Video and Audio to the Sound House
The key part during this stage as an audio professional is understanding how the information and the data need to travel from one point to another. You should request your clients to provide you with the details on how you want to receive the project. Details traditionally include specs on how you want to receive video codec or where you like the timecode window burn to be placed.
Also, it is important to always request footsteps, lips, and subtitles. Audio normally gets to the sound house in the form of either an OMF or AAF export. The organization of the tracks and audio handle length is also a pivotal part of the export, so make sure to include these as well in your specs. Depending on what kind of export a client provides you with, there are some hurdles you’ll need to get past, so it is always a good idea to discuss these issues with your customers before they export their tracks.
Also, it is never a bad idea to suggest a test export before you receive the real thing. This will spare you endless nights working out drawbacks and bugs endlessly before the spotting session.
2. Spotting Session
The spotting session is when the entire team comes together to discuss the entire project. During this phase, editors normally focus on taking a myriad of notes whilst audio and sound professionals focus on the intricacies of sound design and client expectations, which kind of circles back to the budget issue we discussed in the first part of this guide.
The spotting session is all about making ideal suggestions. In fact, it is normal to see both the dialog editor and the picture editor discussing mic alternatives and whether or not certain tracks can be used. Of course, audio and sound post-production is all about the details, which is why this phase is also a good opportunity to discuss the details of the project, and decide whether that car honking needs to stay or say goodbye.
Normally, film producers and sound professional don’t seem to agree upon how they feel towards the vast majority of sounds, lines, and tracks, which is why the spotting session is so pivotal.
3. Editorial Work
Once the spotting session is over, audio and sound professionals take care of the project basically on their own. There is practically no room for anybody else in the making and designing of the audio. Normally editorial work requires help from the film crew (traditionally the producer or director) when the dialog edit contains words in a foreign language or when specific sounds need to be designed.
However, it is your responsibility as an audio professional to get past this “hurdles” —most audio pros sometimes will bring in an individual fluent in that specific language to make nothing is missing or altered during the final dialog edit. Additionally, whenever the project requires a more complex sound design, they’ll also bring in the crew and the director to discuss the complexity of that area in order to prevent it from sounding unrealistic in the final mix.
Once the editorial work is concluded, the vast majority of sound and audio professionals are fond of performing a premix. The premixing process allows you as an audio pro to perform extra work that will end up enhancing the project’s final mix, making the audio sound spotless.
Matching the sound of the audio across all edits, using a sheer array of different mics is something that needs to be done in addition to dialing in the loudness of all audio tracks. It is also normal to use the premixing stage to perform audio restoration and noise reduction.
5. The Final Mix
The final mix is when directors and film producers start to hear the film as it should sound. It is important to mention, however, that there might be different approaches to the whole sound production process just like no two people cook a steak the same way. While there may be similarities in what this job is about, the inventiveness and approaches to creating the best sound for an audiovisual project vary from audio professional to audio professional.
*The images used on this post are taken from Pexels.com